Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations
Well, here we are again, taking a look at the second episode of season one of March Comes in Like a Lion in my re-watch/analysis series. In the last post, I touched on how the first episode served as a great character introduction to Rei, setting up the main story threads that will follow him throughout the series, that being both the relationship with his adopted family, but also the love and support he gets from the Kawamoto sisters. With that being said, lets get right into the next episode.
The second episode of March Comes in Like a Lion is used largely to build on the relationship established in the first episode between Rei and the Kawamoto sisters, with the introduction of some other important characters sprinkled in.
Following with the end of the first episode, in the opening minutes of episode two the show introduces Nikaido, Rei’s self-declared rival and later on best friend. The show also quickly establishes Nikaido’s family wealth when Rei asks where “that guy that follows you around is?” to which Nikaido replies “Oh, my servant, he is on vacation.” The two chat about an upcoming Shogi invitational before, heading up to Rei’s apartment and revealing his current disinterest in anything having to do with him.
The next morning, Rei heads to his qualifying match for the NHK tournament. It is at this point, while walking to the train station across the bridge that one of the few things he genuinely likes is the river, and that despite their being a train station closer to his house, on match days he crosses the bridge just to see the river.
It may seem like an insignificant detail, but considering what has already been revealed about Rei’s personality up to this point, it actually gives a lot of context to why he might be in this town in the first place. Also, since this does not fit anywhere else, I thought I should go ahead and mention that the show uses a lot of water metaphors, something I talked about in a different article.
After Rei arrives at the Shogi club, the show introduces two new characters, Issa and Tatsuyuki, that play generally minor roles throughout the show, but for this episode are somewhat important. For his qualifying match, Rei plays against Issa, but beats him relatively quickly. It is revealed after he loses that Issa wanted to get into the tournament so that his grandpa could watch him from the hospital, since the tournament would be broadcast on national television. However, Tatsuyuki quickly lightens the mood by suggesting the three should go out for drinks and that Rei would be buying, not forgetting to mention that the place they would be going is the same place Akari works.
It is at this point in the episode where the show reveals the backstory of how Rei and the Kawamoto sisters met. While the three are having a good time drinking, Rei of course not drinking alcohol because he is a minor, Akari comments on how nice Issa and Tatsuyuki seem to be, saying they are good senpais, but immediately after commenting on how there can also be bad senpais that would take advantage of a friend with a lot of money, and abandon them.
It is also worth mentioning the disdain Akari has on her face when she says this, seeming genuinely mad for the first time in the show, and this makes sense, given what comes after. The show flashes back to Rei abandoned on the street in front of the same club. Akari notices him lying there, and helps him back to her house. Considering his need to throw up, and waking up the next morning with his hand to his head, it is implied that the people he was with forced him to drink, something else Akari says she hates.
The latter third of the episode starts with Rei waking up, realizing he has no food, and going to the grocery store across the bridge. While there, picking up his usual assortment of cupped noodles and other treats, he runs into Momo, Hina, and Akari. Akari sees his shopping basket and comments that he never comes to dinner and prefers to eat cup noodles instead of her food. Feeling guilty, Rei chases after them as they turn around, after which Akari hands him an sticks used for Obon celebration, Obon being a celebration of one’s ancestors.
As the four of them, along with the girls grandpa, later gather at the sisters’ house, they enjoy each other company and eat. Grandpa asks Rei where his family is buried, revealing that Rei’s family is dead.
After dinner, Akari gives Rei the leftovers from their meal, telling him to heat it up in the microwave before eating it. She then says to come over again on Monday for the end of the Obon, where she will have a huge feast, saying “it is nice to have company over…” Rei does not hear the rest of what she says, but believes she meant to say “as a distraction.” This scene in the show does two things, 1) it establishes that Akari’s reason for having Rei over a lot is somewhat selfish, but also that 2) That the sisters are still very much grieving from the loss of their mother and grandmother.
Finally, the end of the first episode reveals that after the loss of his family, Rei felt emotionally forced into Shogi, saying “I had nothing else to do.” It has not been revealed yet exactly why this is the case, but nonetheless it establishes more context for Rei’s current life as a pro Shogi player.
Episode two of season one is all about providing more context, both for Rei and his current emotional struggle, and for his relationship with the Kawamoto sisters, as well as the pains they are going through. Overall, the episode is incredibly well executed.
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